Mr Stuart Ronald Walker joined Mount Albert Grammar School in 1979 from Otahuhu College, to replace Mr Roger Yates as senior chemistry teacher. By 1980 Stuart had also inherited responsibilities for chess from Mr Yates.
Stuart began his 1982 report for The Albertian with:
‘The mindlessness of space invaders is no match for the intellectual stimulation of a good game of chess ”, and in 2002 his report for The Albertian ended with:
‘Next year we would like to enter a team of girls ”
Sadly, he will not be here to see it.
At the Old Boys’ Dinner in 2000 he was honoured by the Association with a commemorative plaque for his long and distinguished service.
It was in the classroom that Stuart excelled. He was able to inject into the flow of the lessons extraordinary and clever quips that were either so blatant that the listeners were stunned by the subtlety of the remark, or, on the other hand the throw-away comment was so deep and meaningful that only those students who were able to follow his line of thought were able to understand his comment.
In Science Department meetings Stuart was an anchor, seeking to maintain the link between reality and innovation, youth and experience, and intemperance and stability. We all thoroughly enjoyed his sense of humour, and mature contribution to our department as we grappled with the demands of new curricula and new assessment philosophies. We recognized Stuart’s outstanding contribution to the Science Department in 2000, when he was presented with a special award ‘ few staff had contributed to the department as Stuart had done.
The advent of the Girls’ School was a challenge for us all, and it was without hesitation that we appointed Stuart as the form teacher of the top form class in the inaugural year of the Girls’ School. Every day he wore with pride the special badge presented by the Right Honourable Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand, to the inaugural class of 2000. He took special care of ‘his girls’. Stuart acted as ‘father’ and ‘mentor’, and secretly thoroughly enjoyed every minute of his teaching of this class. He continued to teach this class into their second year and the bond that developed between these students and Stuart was remarkable. I remember visiting Stuart during the latter part of 2001, taking with me bundles of ‘Get Well Soon’ and ‘We miss you, Mr Walker’ cards, handcrafted by his girls, and Stuart being so frustrated that he was not able to be there to take this advanced class into their end-of-year external examinations.
Stuart’s delivery to the senior academic students in the school, in chemistry, was extraordinary. Year after year he would tutor his boys to incredible achievements in University Bursary/Scholarship examinations, Australian Chemistry Competitions, and the New Zealand Chemistry Olympiad. So many of our senior students owe their success at University level to this remarkable and intelligent man.
Stuart Ronald Walker was an extraordinary teacher, who loved teaching and excelled in his personal relationships with young people. On a personal level, Stuart’s support in managing the Science Department was phenomenal. I am particularly grateful for his guidance and support. I could not have hoped to have had a better friend and mentor.
Head of Science (1995-2005)